This year went by so fast! I know it's not technically over yet, but once Thanksgiving passes, it's all a hot chocolate fueled wind-down until the new year, am I right? At least it is that way for me... And sitting here trying to put together a list of the things that kept me sane this past year isn't hard because there weren't many things, but because time flew so fast, some things I'm remembering were actually a year or two years ago. I didn't even realize it was time to do this column until yesterday when usually I plan it for at least a week! It's probably not a terrible thing that time flew, though, right? That must mean I didn't need too many things to keep me sane because I was having a good time of life as it was! Anyway, here is what I could come up with on the fly for my "Favorite Things" of 2011...
Once Upon A Time. I will wax poetic about this for as long as I have an audience-- even if it's just an audience of the Internet ether with no one actually engaging-- but I. Love. This. Show. It makes me feel like a kid again. It's everything I always wanted in a fairy-tale because we actually go in depth with the princesses and villains to see both sides to every story. It's beautiful and grande and larger than life, but the themes and relationships are all perfectly grounded and reflective of what is going on with my own friends and family. There are elements of mystery to try to figure out, and there is the the power to just get lost in another world. A world where even when it seems otherwise, you just know there will be a happy ending.
Michael Kors handbags. It doesn't matter what I'm going shopping for, I always get distracted by a pretty bag. Let's face it, shiny things catch my attention, and no one uses silver adornments better than Michael Kors. Every time I pick up the bag, flipping it over nine times out of ten reveals the silver plate that reads: Michael Kors, est. 1981. It's funny how much my attitude can change toward a mundane outfit when I hang one of these on my arm.
Crispy mashed potatoes. I can thank my friend Natalie for this, but my favorite discovery of the year was without a doubt the crispy mashed potatoes we had at dinner the first night a select group of bloggers was up in Vancouver on a set visit trip. In fact, we chose to go to the restaurant simply because they served these. Think about an eggroll but lighten the coating so it's not so deep fried or thick. Stuff it with creamy mashed potatoes and top it with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese and bacon bits, with a dollop of sour cream on the side, and there you have it. I tried to perfect this myself for Thanksgiving dinner, but it didn't come out nearly as pretty looking, though admittedly sloppy or neat, it all tastes delicious. I still dream about these...
Stephen King. I have to hand it to the guy. It's been years since he decided he wanted to retire from writing-- and then came out of said retirement to get "one last" story out of him...and then one more story and then one more. It seems that just about this time every year he unveils a brand new novel, each one more intriguing and unique than the last. That kind of consistency is an extremely hard thing to accomplish as a writer, and it's certainly something to which I aspire. In the meantime, I just like getting lost in his stories for a few days.
Zico Chocolate Coconut Water. I am a big kid. I love to drink chocolate milk, but I don't like milk. I think I'm slightly lactose intolerant so drinking too much milk is uncomfortable for me anyway. Also, growing up, there was nothing better on a hot day than a Marino's Italian ice, but you can't get those in Los Angeles. Enter Zico. Their chocolate flavored coconut water is a low calorie sweet alternative to chocolate milk (tastes the same without the thickness of milk), and when you freeze it in a small Tupperware bowl, you get the perfect chocolate ice. The syrup even sinks to the bottom so when you flip it over, you get a crunchy surprise, just like Marino's!
The ability to buy postage online or at self-serve kiosks. I don't really believe in hell, but I believe if there is a hell, mine would be waiting on a line at the post office. And then getting up to the counter to realize that the person in front of me is slow, chatty, and a little bit lazy. Every time I think I want to live in a small Southern town, I take a trip to the (usually Brentwood) post office, experience the lacakadaisical attitude with which they do their job (and specifically slow down so if you have customs forms or a big package the other teller has to deal with you), and I change my tune. I never enjoy doing something myself more than when at the post office!
Madison Chandler. Even if I had nothing else, he would be more than enough.